The Ivory Coast began the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations a with a 1-1 draw against minnows Guinea in their Group D opener on Tuesday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
A stunning finish from Mohamed Yattara put Guinea 1-0 up in the 36th minute, after AS Roma’s Gervinho had been denied by a terrific save from Guinea’s goalkeeper Naby Yattara early on.
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In the second half Gervinho then turned into the villain for the Ivory Coast as the forward was sent off in the 57th minute for inexplicably slapping Guinea’s Naby Keita in the face. A blatant red card, as the former Arsenal striker pounded the ground in disbelief after a moment of madness. Guinea almost doubled their lead soon after as captain Ibrahima Traore hit the crossbar.
Strangely, the sending off sparked a rather subdued Ivory Coast into life and despite being down to 10-men they equalized in the 72nd minute. Manchester City’s Yaya Toure clipped the ball into Wilfried Bony (his new teammate at City after Bony’s $42 million move form Swansea last week) and he chested down the ball and caressed it perfectly into CSKA Moscow’s Seydou Doumbia who slotted home calmly. 1-1.
That was how things finished as Guinea were delighted with a point against one of the favorites to win AFCON, despite having an extra man for over half an hour of the match, while the Ivory Coast will be concerned with their effort as group games against Cameroon and Mali should be more challenging.
Mali play Cameroon in the other Group D clash on Tuesday, as the Indomitable Lions make their long-awaited return to the Africa Cup of Nations after failing to qualify for both the 2012 and 2013 tournaments. Can the four-time AFCON Champions return to the competition with a bang in 2015 after leaving the likes of Alex Song and Samuel Eto’o off their roster?